Imaginative boutique-style builders’ infills draw robust buyer interest in the inner city
The tree-lined streets of Calgary’s established inner-city neighbourhoods, both north and south of the Bow River, are experiencing a rejuvenation thanks to a handful of boutique-style builders.
Armed with a bevy of thoughtful designs aimed at reeling in those who want a shorter commute, access to a multitude of river parks and bike pathways, and walkability to a vibrant restaurant, bar and arts scene, these builders are snapping up 50-foot lots and slicing them up to create a new streetscape in keeping with a contemporary lifestyle. In neighbourhoods like Altadore and Marda Loop, where once stood rows of 1940s style wartime housing, interspersed with 1950s and 1960s-era bungalows, now a gleaming contemporary two- and three-storey streetscape dominates. Home designs run the gamut from 5,000-square foot, estate-style homes on 50-foot lots to skinny, three-storey loft-style single family homes with an edgy, contemporary feel.
Finally, you can add to the mix all kinds of multi-family housing, from five-plexes with a common interior courtyard to urban town houses.
“Living in the inner-city is really a lifestyle choice,” says Pedro Villamar, partner and sales manager at newinfills.ca, an innovative marketing company focused on selling the new build inner-city infill. “People are really starting to put a lot of emphasis on being able to enjoy their life outside of their home. They don’t want to be commuting an hour each way to and from work. They like biking to work and they want to be home early enough to enjoy time with their family.”
Villamar says living in the inner city is a little bit more expensive than buying a new build in the suburbs, noting that it just comes down to where a buyer sees value — in lifestyle or in home size.
New Infills represents more than 20 boutique builders in the inner-city, most of whom build less than half a dozen homes per year.
“We really noticed a big gap in the market. None of the inner-city builders were being represented the way a builder should be,” says Villamar, noting that selling a new build home is a lot different than selling a resale product. “Buyers ask a whole different set of questions. They want to know what materials are being used to build the home — what is in the ceiling, in the walls.”
Add to that the fact that in the inner-city, for the most part, builders are working on a smaller scale so show homes don’t exist.
“It’s hard to market a home that isn’t yet built,” says Villamar. But newinfills.ca is doing a stellar job. In fact, Villamar says in September it captured 15 per cent of the market share of all the new infill sales south of the river.
Buyers Cheryl and Kevin Sullivan say that newinfills.ca made finding their inner-city dream home easy. The 30-somethings, who had been living in Panorama Hills, wanted a home closer-in where they could walk along the river with their Old English bull dog Mathilda, be close to established schools (they have plans to start a family) and where they could walk to restaurant and pubs.
“We wanted something in the core with an open-concept that had a really contemporary interior,” says Cheryl, adding she fell in love with the home’s clean contemporary lines, high-end finishes, its great use of light (the home has an east-west exposure) and its transitional exterior with an old-style veranda. Designed by boutique builder Sagebrook Developments Inc., the three-level, 3,000-square foot home makes great use of space. The couple had looked at several homes, none of which really stirred their soul, but when they came across the newinfills.ca website, they were amazed by what it offered — renderings of inner-city new builds, highlights of all of the builder projects and lots of interior photos.
Every Saturday and Sunday, newinfills.ca holds open houses from 2 to 4 p.m. in recently completed new build inner-city projects.
“It’s kind of on a rotating basis. It could be any of our builders. It just depends on which home is finished,” says Villamar, who says the weekend open house list is posted on the website by mid-week.
“That’s how we found our home,” says Cheryl. “It was featured in a weekend open house. We saw it and we knew that it was for us immediately.”
The couple purchased their home just over a year ago and Cheryl, who has always lived in the suburbs, hasn’t looked back.
“Everyone is out on the street. It’s so interactive, really social. I absolutely love it.”